Evan Goldenbaum wasn’t the line last of defense on the soccer pitch. But he was responsible for the opposition not reaching it. The center back for Barron Collier High School was the center of the defense.
“I’m right after the goalkeeper, making sure everyone’s doing their job, trying to ensure everyone plays the best way,” Barron Collier’s Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete finalist said. “That’s kind of taught me how to lead a team, to be more of a leader, and to work everyone, to know the strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to the team’s benefit.
Barron was particularly strong a year ago, making the state semifinals and falling just shy of the final.
“That was more fun than anything,” said Goldenbaum, who plans on going to Florida State. “We got to skip our school, actually. It was like a cool way to get close to the team in a way. We have a long drive up. We have a big game ahead of us. We went to see movies. … We were out to be with each other, which was really good and kind of know each other better.”
He didn’t know what he was in for as a senior, though. Goldenbaum chose to play football as a kicker, a position where many soccer players end up. After seeing him practice, the coaches had other ideas and put him at receiver.
“They said my speed was impressive,” Goldenbaum said. ” … It gave me another perspective on the sport itself.”
The relationship he built in football helped Goldenbaum academically. The receivers coach was also his calculus teacher.
“We’ve been taking practice exams and I had been struggling to keep my grade up in that class,” Goldenbaum said. “He stayed after school until 4 o’clock — answering questions on the test to help me. To me, that’s amazing to appreciate your subject enough and to really want to help people enough to sacrifice your time to help them succeed.”
Goldenbaum already knew about sacrificing time. That’s part of being a top student-athlete. For him, managing all of the different forces pulling on that time is the key. Whether it’s teachers asking to put in more time, or coaches.
“You want to do the best for everyone and you want to excel at everything,” he said.
About Greg Hardwig
Greg Hardwig has been at the Daily News since 1997 and the sports editor since 2004. He also cover golf in Southwest Florida.